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Thinking without language?

Lee Sau Dan ~{ at nJX6X~} sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk
Sun Nov 21 10:55:58 EST 1999

>>>>> "Alan" == Alan Roth <alan42 at mindspring.com> writes:

    Alan> Am I being accused of laziness, or of just not needing pi to
    Alan> 200 places?

Well?  That's not  a guilt.  However, the secret behind  it is: if you
try, you can do it!

    Alan> I find rote memorization useless for most of what I have
    Alan> done professionally (as a computer programmer). If I were a
    Alan> Shakespearean actor I would memorize plays--I am not one.

As a  programmer, you've already  memorized many things.   You're just
not aware of it.  Whatever  language you're programming (C? C++? Java?
Perl? AWK? Lisp? Scheme?  Prolog?  Assembly? Basic? Pascal?), you need
to memorize its grammatical rules as well as vocabulary (i.e. reserved
words  or key  words).  Even  the simpliest  general  purpose computer
language  have dozens  of  grammatical rules  and  dozens of  reserved
words/symbols.  Moreover,  solely the grammar is  not sufficient.  You
still need to  memorize the semantics of a  large amount of API/system
library calls.   As a professional  programmer, you should be  able to
recall no less  than 100 such API functions without  going back to the
manuals, can't you?

    Alan> So what is the point? I still find it
    Alan> surprising (and admirable) that someone would take on the
    Alan> task of memorizing pi, but I am not inclined to do it
    Alan> myself. 

There are at least  a few guys who claim that they  have recited pi up
to 1000+  decimal places.  Quite many  people have memorized  pi up to
100+ decimal places.  I don't  think this has any practical use.  It's
just personal interest.

    Alan> Is this a character flaw?

I don't think so.  You don't have to do everything that you're capable
of.   However, failing  to  notice your  abilities  and potentials  is
certainly a weakness.

Lee Sau Dan                     $(0,X)wAV(B(Big5)                    ~{@nJX6X~}(HZ) 
| http://www.cs.hku.hk/~sdlee                      e-mail: sdlee at csis.hku.hk |

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